Yesterday, along with partners of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, we met with Government Minister Steve Brine, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)
The aim of the meeting was to press the need for Government and its agencies to focus on brain tumours and other neglected cancers as a matter of urgency and into the long term.
People with the six less survivable cancers of pancreatic, liver, brain, lung, oesophageal and stomach cancer have just a 14 per cent chance on average of living beyond five years.
For a person with one of the 14 more survivable cancers, including breast, prostate and bowel, the figure jumps to 64 per cent.
The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce has set out to close the gap and were eager to meet with the Minister who overseas cancer policy in England.
The Minister supports renewed focus on less survivable cancers under the current Government. The England cancer strategy has a one-year survival target of 75% across all cancers by 2020 and we expect this target will be met in spite of insufficient progress in some cancers.
That is why we urged the Minister for the creation of a separate survival target for this group of cancers in the next strategy as a statement of intent and to better hold those responsible for its implementation to account.
In regards to the current strategy, there are additional measures that must be put in place to track progress and raise accountability. The cancer dashboard collates data at provider and Clinical Commissioning Group level in England and includes incidence, survival and patient experience metrics (with quality of life to follow). Yet is includes just four cancers and excludes brain.
We also highlighted the importance of investment to raise the impact and scope of research into brain tumours, including the routine collection of tumour tissue to improve our knowledge and understanding of tumour types at the molecular level and greater career opportunities and incentives for researchers to enter into the field of brain tumours.
We are actively working with the Department of Health separately on a report due next year which highlights these issues.
The Minister and colleagues at the Department of Health welcomed charities working together to propose and campaign for policy solutions. We are excited to meet in the next year with those responsible more directly for the delivery of the England Cancer Strategy and push for fundamental change. It’s crucial that these cancers are on the agenda and in the minds of those who hold power.
This is just the first step for the Taskforce and we look forward to the New Year and the continued fight for change.
Find out more about the Taskforce here